Cape Town - Without faster progress, there is a real chance
South Africa could slide backwards, National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel
said on Wednesday.
"For these reasons, we must accelerate the pace of
change, work harder and better to move towards the vision we all aspire
to," he told a joint sitting of Parliament's two Houses convened to hand
over the revised national development plan (NDP) to President Jacob Zuma.
"It is possible. We are capable as a nation of
achieving these bold and ambitious, but realistic objectives (in the NDP).
"When we unite and work together, we can achieve
miracles. Our history is testament to this."
The plan to eliminate poverty and inequality rested on six
pillars. The first was to unite all South Africans around a common programme to
fight poverty and inequality and foster a spirit of unity.
"But this will remain a hollow call unless we can
improve the lives of young black people."
The second pillar was active citizenry.
Working individually and collectively with others in the
community, citizens had a critical role to play in their own development and in
the country's development.
The third pillar was a growing and inclusive economy, needed
to deliver on the objectives set.
"We need to create more jobs, and make progress in
broadening ownership of the economy. Our economy is caught in a low growth
trap. To reverse this, we require higher investment, better skills, rising
savings and greater levels of competitiveness.
"We do not suffer a poverty of ideas; our weakness is
in implementation. The commission identified critical factors that contribute
to this flaw and makes several proposals to deal with it," Manuel said.
The fourth pillar of the plan addressed the urgent need to
build capabilities. Capabilities applied to both people and the state.
The fifth pillar was a capable and developmental state.
"We define a developmental state as one that is capable
of intervening to correct historical inequalities and to create opportunities
for more people.
"A capable state needs to be professional, competent and
responsive to the needs of all citizens. We seek a professional civil service
which can weather changes in political administrations."
The sixth pillar was the responsibilities of leadership
throughout society to work together to solve the problems.
"South Africa's progress in navigating the transition
from apartheid to democracy was built on the ability of leaders to put aside
narrow sectarian interests in favour of national interest, leaders who were
able to put aside short-term political agendas for long-term benefit.
"To achieve the South Africa that we all desire, we
require leaders to put the country first, to put the future ahead of
There were areas where the plan differed from existing plans
or policies. It was very much in the nature of planning that there would need
to be an alignment of plans, both within and outside of government, to the
broad strategic plan being proposed.
"The commission has drawn from our Constitution the
perspective that the future we must construct is one where no person lives in
poverty and where together we deal decisively to root out the deep inequality
that we have inherited. We are convinced that our country can and must
eliminate poverty," Manuel said.
By 2030, no one should live in poverty. The so-called Gini
co-efficient (to measure income inequality) should be reduced from a very high
0.69 to 0.60 by 2030.
The commission was making a case for what needed to be done
by all, regardless of political persuasion or station in life.
The commission identified enabling milestones to achieve the
broad objectives of the plan.
"For example, we would have to create an additional 11
million jobs over the next two decades. Per capita income should rise from
about R50 000 per person to about R120 000, but distributed more evenly across
The economy would have to expand to almost three times the
present level. The share of income accruing to the bottom 40% of the population
should rise from 6% to 10%.
Ninety percent of children in grade six should be able to
read, write and count at the appropriate level, and all children should have
access to proper nutrition from birth to ensure proper formative development.
"Despite massive progress since 1994, on the present
trajectory we will not achieve our target of eliminating poverty and reducing
inequality by 2030."
Manuel said it was expected that cabinet, led by the
president, would consider this plan, adopt the key recommendations, and set in
motion a focused programme to implement it.
"We have an opportunity to construct a future we all
want. We must not squander this opportunity," he said.
"The decisions we make today, the actions we take over
the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years will determine whether South Africa's future
is successful, or whether we are just another hopeful but ineffective state
unable to satisfy its people's dreams."
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